Bank Holiday Monday traditionally means Belle Vue, and the Manchester weather was traditionally cold and wet. The rain began to fall just after the meeting started, and continued until the end of the GN. For the most part, the track stood up well to the rain, but the sheer volume of water that fell most of the evening made for a tricky racing surface and there was really just a handful of drivers able to cope with the conditions.
With most of the front of the pack wiping each other out in the opening laps of the first heat, it wasn’t long before Scott Davids was at the front, and he went on to win, with Danny Wainman a close second.
The second heat was run in heavy rain, with James Morris surviving to cross the line first, but the most impressive drive came from Dan Johnson. The number 4 car lost a lap parked in the fence at the start, but steadily made up ground to finish second.
The third heat saw Dave Willis hit the front early on, and he looked to be one of the few that seemed capable of making his car go exactly where he wanted it. Johnson gradually reeled him in and took over as the lap boards came out. But he was denied victory when he misjudged passing a backmarker on the last bend, which let Willis nip through to snatch the victory.
The final was open to all available cars, and therefore it was not necessary to qualify. The race saw the first appearance of the evening for Frankie Wainman Junior, who had missed the heats as he was at a Ministox meeting with his son at Buxton.
The 515 car was spun out almost as soon as the green dropped (brother Danny was the prime suspect), while up front it was newcomer Martyn Walton (243) that led the opening laps. Willis caught him and worked his way past for the lead. Wainman (515) had made a rapid recovery from his opening lap drama and was soon behind brother Danny as they both charged up the order.
Willis had a decent lead, but a stranded car on turn three meant for a cautious line and the Wainmans appeared to be gaining every lap. Frankie went past Danny and pulled away just as the lap boards came out, but he was still quite a few lengths behind Willis.
No doubt knowing that Willis would nail him if he got chance, Wainman went for drastic measures, and from some way back dived at the 337 car. Both went fencewards, with Willis bouncing off the wires and collecting Wainman, who held on to his lead. Willis rejoined some way back, but still in the places.
The chequered flag fell on Frankie Wainman’s fourth final of the season, with brother Danny finishing runner-up, and Dave Willis coming home fifth; small consolation for what had been an excellent drive in very demanding conditions.
With only around half the entry being ready, willing, and able to take part in the GN, Johnson had little trouble in making his way up the reduced field to take the win. Another fine drive saw Willis finish second, with Wainman (515) making light work of the lap handicap to record a fifth place finish.
Probably not the greatest ever way of spending a bank holiday evening, but it was still better than staying in watching the telly!